Health Starts at Home

Demonstrating the positive benefits of stable, affordable housing on children's health outcomes

Over the last 10 years, researchers have found that instability in housing, driven in large part by unaffordable rents, has a profoundly negative impact on a child's mental, behavioral and physical health.

Health Starts at Home is an initiative hosted by the Boston Foundation that brings together housing and health-care organizations to support work that demonstrates the positive benefits of stable, affordable housing on children’s health outcomes. 

This video was produced for the 2018 American Public Health Association annual conference to provide an overview of Heath Starts at Home.

Health Starts at Home

This four-year initiative supports partnerships among housing and health-care organizations with the goal of: 

  • highlighting the importance of affordable housing in children’s health outcomes;
  • identifying promising new and existing models that can be brought to scale to improve children’s health outcomes;
  • decreasing health care costs; and
  • decreasing costs related to homelessness.


Children homeless on any given night in Massachusetts

PHASE I: Planning Grant Competition

In 2014, the Boston Foundation received 12 applications representing collaborations among more than 50 organizations. Following rigorous review by a 10-person panel of both internal and external reviewers, four nine-month planning grants of $40,000 were awarded. During this planning period, in addition to refining their interventions, each partnership worked with the evaluation consultants, Health Resources in Action and the Urban Institute, to develop shared measures and data collection protocols for the evaluation of housing and health outcomes.

PHASE II: Implementation

Upon completion of the nine-month planning phase, proposals were submitted for implementation funding that included details about refined program models, outcomes and partnership roles. Following a second panel review, four partnerships were awarded three years of support totaling $200,000/year to implement their program models and evaluation plans. The partnerships supported with Phase II implementation grants are highlighted below.

Learning and Evaluation

	Laura McConaghy

Contact Director of Philanthropy Operations Laura McConaghy to learn more about Health Starts at Home.

Each of these partnerships work with Health Starts at Home’s evaluation consultants, Health Resources in Action and the Urban Institute, to assess program effectiveness through a set of shared measures related to housing stability and children’s health. In addition, these partnerships receive technical assistance and participate in a learning community to continually enhance their programs. The Health Starts at Home Initiative will also undergo a process evaluation to document successes and challenges, which will inform the Boston Foundation’s future work, as well as the work of others in the health and housing fields.


We thank our funding partners The Kresge Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA Foundation, Partners HealthCare and Annie E. Casey Foundation for their partnership in this work.

Join the Boston Foundation in supporting the implementation of promising projects developed through Health Starts at Home.